This time of year is always a good time to check in on your goals and to evaluate how close (or far) you are to meeting them. It is also a good time to look at some of the habits you practice every day to see if they are working for or against you. Habits are the activities or patterns of behavior we do without even thinking.

One good habit is to set goals in all areas of your life (career, family, health, spiritual, and relational, to name a few). Reviewing your progress against those goals on a weekly or monthly basis is an important offshoot habit of setting goals. This review allows us to be aware of what we are doing (activities and habits) that are working for our benefit and those that are not.

It may sound obvious when I suggest to keep doing what is working and to stop doing what isn’t. However, this is the down side of habits as well. You may not be conscious of a common habit that is actually preventing you from making progress on your goals. The habit may have been good for you at one time in your life, yet no longer serves you well.

My friend and fellow executive coach, Dave Ferguson, recently reminded me of several habits of successful leaders. I’ll mention a few more of them here.

1. Successful Leaders Are Readers– Do you make reading a priority in your day? Reading helps me to stay in tune with what other thought leaders are thinking and doing. I don’t always agree with what they say, yet I attempt to keep an open mind so I can learn a different and perhaps new perspective on topics of interest or importance.

2. Successful Leaders Carefully Choose Who Influences Them– I have often said “We become the average of the five people we allow to influence us the most – choose carefully.” Think for a minute who the five influential people are in your leadership life.

a.    Do they help you grow or keep you where you are?
b.    Do they encourage you or criticize you?
c.    Do they challenge you or hold you back from taking appropriate risks?
d.    Do they speak openly or tell you what you want to hear?
e.    Are they more concerned for your success or care more about their own success?

3. Successful Leaders Practice Generosity– The habit of generosity is multi-dimensional. Successful leaders are generous with their time, resources, ideas, encouragement of others, and talents. They give money to causes they believe in. They devote time and uninterrupted attention to people who are important to them. They speak highly of others who are not in their presence. They share freely what they have learned and experienced, so others can benefit as well.

4. Successful Leaders Allow Time To Invest In Themselves– They establish and stick to priorities of self-development not because they are only average leaders, but because they know they can always learn and grow. They know there is no growth in their comfort zone, so they seek opportunities to step outside their areas of expertise (yet always in their strength zone) to grow.

5. Successful Leaders Develop Their Replacement– One of the most crucial responsibilities of a leader is to identify and develop someone to take their place. This creates two benefits:

a. By having a “ready-now” replacement, they can confidently pursue larger roles within the organization.

b. They commit to their leadership role of developing others on their team to be all they can be.

How do you rate yourself in these five habits of successful leaders? Be honest with yourself— another good habit to master! If you find you are not where you would like to be, that is okay. This is the beginning of the awareness you want to have. Which habit do you want to work on?

While I have not mastered the habits listed above and certainly have continued growth to experience, I’d be happy to go on the journey with you or someone you know. Feel free to share this list with your colleagues and let them know they can reach out to me as well.

Best regards,

Bill